Wednesday, December 3, 2014

We Can be Heroes…If Just for One Day

No Hero – The Evolution of a Navy SEAL – Mark Owen (Dutton Adult)

Mark Owen is the pseudonym of former Navy SEAL and member of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group, better known as Seal Team Six and the bestselling author of No Easy Day, the account of his participation in, among other high profile missions, the killing of Usama Bin Laden.

Owen is back with No Hero – The Evolution of a Navy SEAL the story of his thirteen year career in the SEALs. The story really does detail the evolution that he went through, both mentally and physically as well as the strategic evolution of how the Seals approached the mission at hand.

While certainly not giving away actionable intelligence, Owen does offer up some insight into both the demands of becoming one of the United States elite warriors and the process of the mission. While he may not have set out to offer up a book on leadership, there is an interesting set of business applicable theories.

While Owen and many of his fellow warriors try to shrug off the hero label with the faint statement of “just doing our job” the truth is we as a nation ask an enormous amount from these men, that they willingly deliver with no desire for accolades and that is what truly makes them heroic.

The Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy SEAL Leader – Jason Redman (William Morrow)

Recently there have been a pile of books published by and about members of the special forces/Navy SEAL warriors. Many recount in great detail the physically punishing and demanding; training, testing and missions that they endure along the way. While many in the genre are very good reads, very few offer as intimate and intense a rendering of the life of a Navy SEAL as The Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy SEAL Leader by Jason Redman.

Lt. Redman details the depths of his desire to pursue a career in the military and as a member of the SEALs that dates back to his youth. While many special forces books, both non-fiction and fiction accounts tend to tell seemingly tall tales of super human heroics, Redman paints a much more human story. While early on he struggled to balance the hard road and the bravado with reality, Redman clearly evolves as the story progresses.

It’s rare to find a person with a “normal” job to admit they made a critical error then overcome the difficulties associated with that error, let alone a battle hardened SEAL to overcome that circumstance, but that’s exactly what Redman did in spades. Not only did he overcome, he kicked things up a notch to become a SEAL leader.

For a man trained to be self-reliant, but the member of a team, Redman spells out the strength that he drew from his family to not only overcome the strain of mission deployments, but also his recovery from severe injuries sustained in a 2007 battle in Iraq where he suffered gunshot wounds to the face and arm. The sign he posted on his hospital room door that boldly declared that all who entered should not feel sorry for his injuries became a symbol and rallying point not only for Redman, but for warriors everywhere.

If you read The Trident and don’t come away inspired…then you may want to check for a pulse.  

Navy Seals: Their Untold Story – Dick Couch and William Doyle (William Morrow)

Former Navy SEAL and veteran military author Dick Couch and writer/producer William Doyle have teamed for this comprehensive accounting of the broad and evolutionary history of the Navy SEALS in the form of the book and the PBS documentary Navy Seals: Their Untold Story.

The story traces the step by step process of World War II’s Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) through the “frogmen” of the Korean War to the creation of the Sea Air and Land (SEAL) unit of highly skilled commandos who conducted direct action and search a rescue missions to recover POWs during the Viet Nam war. It was during the invasions of Grenada and Panama and later during the first Gulf War That the SEALs transitioned to a highly specialized operators.
Couch’s first hand, “been there, done that” knowledge combined to with incredible access to reams of classified documents and information helps to create a very detailed portrait of the units staggering history. The level of trust that these special operators have in Couch, as one of their own, shines through in the in-person interviews that offer readers an in the room and on the trail point of view to some of the units most legendary operations.

This is a first rate account for those with even a passing interest in the military and will be a must have companion piece to the PBS series for those military history buffs.

War Dogs – Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love – Rebecca Frankel (Palgrave MacMillan)

Speaking of evolution…the role of canine warriors or war dogs has undergone an amazing transformation over the course of time. It is that evolution that is the cornerstone of Rebecca Frankel’s War Dogs – Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love.

Frankel, a senior editor for Foreign Policy magazine, authors a regular column entitled "Rebecca's War Dog of the Week" which has been featured on The Best Defense since January of 2010, in which she profiled the pooches that are the subject of the book.
Dubbed by some of the forces that they operate with as “hair missiles” these dogs of war have played a crucial role in some of the most notable military actions in our history. That role more recently has included detecting improvised explosive devices, directed protective attacks and the more traditional sniffing out the bad guys.

Frankel literally goes to the heart of the matter as she details not only the work of these amazing animals, but incredible relationships and integral roles they have with not only their handlers, but the teams they work with and often protect.  



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